Source: Financial Times —
Charlotte, who is in her late sixties and impatient to move to Florida, has cut the price of her two-bedroom Upper East Side apartment by a fifth, to $2mn. After three months without a suitable offer, Amy Schwab Owens gave up trying to sell her Chelsea apartment — despite cutting the price by $300,000, to $3.25mn — and has started renting it out instead. Since she listed it in September, Jen Insardi has been waiting for an acceptable offer on her $7.995mn, four-bedroom condo in Tribeca, which she has spent more than two years renovating.
All are caught up in Manhattan’s housing market slowdown. As rising US mortgage rates curb what buyers can afford — or are willing to pay — many sellers of high-value homes are making large discounts to achieve a sale. Others are sticking fast to what they think their homes are worth — or taking them off the market entirely.
The combination of intransigent sellers and wary buyers means the number of agreed sales in Manhattan between October and December last year was about half what it was in the same period the year before, says New York estate agent Serhant.
“It’s never been difficult to sell a home around here,” says Charlotte, who has lived in her Upper East Side neighbourhood for more than 20 years and declined to give her real name. “People used to stop me and say, ‘If you’re ever moving, let me know’; they were desperate to live here. But this time everyone who comes to visit the home is quibbling about such little things.”
Prices started falling at the beginning of last year. Last month, the median price for an agreed sale in Manhattan was $1.199mn, 17 per cent lower than in December 2021.
The slowdown is part of a national trend, with home sales and price falls most pronounced in cities that had been popular among pandemic-era buyers — notably in Florida and California. US home sales fell every month last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. This year, it expects sales of previously owned homes to fall to their lowest annual total since 2012, when the housing market was still recovering from the subprime mortgage crisis.
In New York, Garrett Derderian, head of research at the Serhant estate agency, says: “Home sales have fallen most sharply for the largest, most expensive homes — exactly those that were most popular following the Covid outbreak.” In September, a home in Hudson Yards sold for $35mn; it was first listed for sale for $59mn.
But many sellers are willing to wait for prices to improve before selling.
Jen Insardi in her $7.995mn condo in Tribeca © DDreps Insardi left New York with her family for Nashville in June 2021. But she has continued to plough time and money — roughly $2.2mn in total — into a wholesale renovation of her Manhattan apartment, which she completed in the autumn. The finished home is illustrated with elegant photographs on her agent’s website — unusually, featuring Insardi herself, a successful jewellery designer, blending the roles of influencer and high-end realtor.
“It doesn’t seem necessary to drop the price: the home is too good,” she says.
“I just wasn’t getting anywhere near what I had hoped for,” says Schwab Owens. She and her husband split their time between Colorado and Maryland so have little use for the two-bedroom home, but she is receiving a good rental rate for it and believes buyer demand will recover eventually.
“It makes sense just to wait it out: I imagine we’ll put it back on the market in two years,” she says.